Burkina Faso coup leaders release prime minister

2015-09-22 11:17

Ouagadougou (dpa) - Burkina Faso's presidential guard has released Prime Minister Isaac Zida, and hundreds of its members were seen surrendering to the army, local radio station Omega FM and witnesses said Tuesday.

Zida was detained last week along with interim President Michel Kafando and two ministers as the presidential guard announced it was seizing power.

Zida - regarded as a political rival of coup leader Gilbert Diendere - was kept under arrest even after the three others were released.

He was freed late on Monday and is now in a "secure place", Omega FM and other media reported.

Diendere had appeared on state television on Monday, apologising to the country and the international community for his actions.

The brigadier general is currently at the base of the presidential guard inside the presidential compound, Omega FM reported.

He is said to be awaiting the outcome of a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in Abuja, Nigeria

The Senegalese and Beninese presidents visited Burkina Faso on behalf of Ecowas over the weekend to propose a peace plan foreseeing an amnesty for the coup plotters and allowing loyalists of ousted president Blaise Compaore to contest the upcoming elections.

Compaore loyalists had been excluded from the elections. Their participation had been one of the key demands of Diendere, who headed the presidential guard under Compaore.

Hundreds of members of the presidential guard were meanwhile seen going to a military camp west of the capital to surrender to the army, which had given them a deadline of 10 am GMT.

An army communiqué by Chief of Staff Pingrenoma Zagre had called on the presidential guard to lay down its arms, promising that its members would not be harmed.

Burkina Faso's political parties and civil society groups were expected to oppose the Ecowas peace plan, which would allow the coup plotters to go unpunished.

Kafando told Radio France Internationale that he was "very reserved" about the plan and said the Ecowas mediators had not consulted him about it.

The interim government took office after Compaore fled the country nearly a year ago, following massive protests against his plans to extend his 27-year rule.

The transitional period was due to culminate in elections on October 11. The Ecowas mediators proposed November 22 as a new date.

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